I'm unplugging today to take care of some work that needs finishing. So that your stop here was not a complete waste of time, here are the details on the Twenty-First Annual Garden State Speculative Fiction Writers Short Story Contest, which does not have an entry fee but does offer an option to get a critique if you donate five bucks:
"Theme: ADVENTURES IN A PERSONAL UTOPIA
Old Ski Nose and Der Bingle sought a metaphorical Utopia on one of their many cinematic road trips, but unlike Mr. Hope and Mr. Crosby, many of today’s practitioners in speculative fiction follow a road going in the opposite direction, a grim path leading to a bleak future full of relentless zombies, environmental catastrophes and totalitarian police states that are particularly unfriendly toward precocious teens. Dystopian fantasies, to some degree, reflect the anxiety of the times, but the reason they’re consistently popular is because they appeal to the rebellious streak in all of us. We’ll accept any oppressive regime, no matter how ridiculous the premise, because we’re hungry to see it fall. It’s so much easier to destroy than it is to build.
And that’s why this year’s contest may be something of a challenge. Cast away all pessimism and craft your vision of the ideal society or the perfect future. The more whimsical and humorous, the better. But above all, make it personal; what is the perfect life to YOU. Make it as realistic or as absurd as you want. Lord knows plausibility wasn’t high on the list of considerations for the current literary wave of 1984-wannabes. And remember to tell a good story: if flying cars represent the pinnacle of human achievement, then take the reader on a joyride. But please, no dry treatises about a Socialist collective workers’ paradise or the benefits of selfishness under a strict Objectivist economic system. Make the future fun!
Submission Period: The contest opens April 1, 2015 and closes July 31, 2015. Any manuscript received before or after the submission window will be disqualified. Multiple submissions are NOT allowed.
Eligibility and Prizes: The contest is open to everyone, no combat skills required. The top five stories will move on to the second round, judged by Hildy Silverman, Editor-in-Chief of Space and Time Magazine. The 1st Place story will be published in a future issue of S&T, as per editor’s timeline and discretion, and the author will receive the Graversen Award ($70), in honor of the GSSW’s founder, Patricia Graversen. The 2nd and 3rd place winners will receive $40 and $25, respectively. There is NO ENTRY FEE. GSSW members will receive a detailed, written critique. Optional: For a donation of $5, non-members may also receive a critique.
Format: Stories must be original and unpublished. Manuscripts must be double spaced and no more than 4000 words in length (firm). Please include contact information (name, mailing address, phone number, email address) on the first page of the manuscript.
Where to Submit: Electronic submissions ONLY. Email manuscripts as an attachment in .rtf file format to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note the story title in the subject line.
Results: Contest results will be announced at the GSSW’s meeting on September 12, 2015 at the public library in Old Bridge, NJ. All entrants are invited to attend. For directions, please visit our website at www.gshw.net. Prize money will be issued in the form of a check payable to winner. Winners unable to attend the meeting will receive their prizes by mail. All contestants will be notified of the results via email and those who qualify for a criitique will receive theirs no later than September 30, 2015."